Human population density and prediction of local plant extinction in Britain

  • Thompson K
  • Jones A
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JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact Abstract: Throughout the world, and particularly in densely populated countries like Britain, human activities exert a dominant influence on the abundance of both plants and animals. The commonness and rarity ofplants in Britain has been plausibly linked to human land use. In Western Europe the identity of increasing and de-creasing plants appears to depend on human population density, which is itself a crude measure of human im-pact on the landscape. The publication of new data on the changing distributions of scarce British plants al-lowed us to investigate the relationship between loss of scarce plants and human population density in Britain. Our results confirm that a direct effect of human population density on localplant extinctions can be detected at the regional scale in Britain. Although intensive agriculture is conventionally regarded as the greatest threat to British wildlife, our analysis suggests that urbanization may be at least as significant a danger. Densidad de la Poblaci6n Humana y Predicci6n de la Extinci6n de Plantas Locales en Gran Bretana Resumen: En muchaspartes del mundo, particularmente en lospaises con alta densidad de poblaci6n como Gran Bretafna, la actividad humana ejerce una influencia muy importante sobre la abundancia de plantasy animales. La abundancia y rareza de lasplantas britdnicas se ha relacionado con el uso del suelo. En Europa occidental, la identidad de las especies que aumentan o disminuyen parece depender de la densidad de po-blaci6n humana, la cual, a su vez, indica aproximadamente la influencia humana sobre elpaisaje. En este trabajo se analizan nuevos datos que confirman que, a una escala regional en Gran Bretafna, sepuede detec-tar un efecto directo de la densidad de poblaci6n humana sobre la desaparici6n local de especies vegetales. Generalmente se ha considerado la agricultura intensiva como la mayor amenaza para la flora y la fauna britanicas. Sin embargo, nuestro andlisis sugiere que la urbanizaci6n podria ser un peligro de la misma o mayor importancia.

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  • Ken Thompson

  • Allan Jones

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